Well, so much for the worst kept secret in TV history. We can now move away from the focus on the return of the show’s most recently fallen hero – Jon Snow. My previous article highlighted two things about him: how given all the compelling hints and foreshadows that he will be back, and how his possible Targaryen lineage might play a role in it. In light (or absence) of the method of his resurrection, we’re no closer to any hints about his lineage than we were a year ago. But perhaps the big reveal will present itself in the now confirmed Tower of Joy scene from the next episode.
In this article however, I’m going to closely examine and speculate on another key character from the show and demonstrate how symbolism and foreshadowing has made me realise there might be more to his story and future than the show has let on. That character is Tyrion Lannister.
We’ve seen Tyrion struggled to find his place in his family throughout the past 5 seasons. From the show, we know there is little love lost between him and his father. Tywin Lannister constantly displayed his disdain and hatred for him. Ever since Tyrion killed his father at the end of season 4, he’s been on the run and now resides in Essos serving as adviser to Daenerys Targaryen. For the first time, we see Tyrion being driven by something greater than himself. There’s a reason why his story arc has now converged with that of Daenerys but what will he accomplish with her remains to be seen.
Taking a closer look at the show, you will find several important hints pointing to the fact that their union might lead to a larger and significant reveal that few show fans would’ve anticipated without interpreting the show’s use of symbolism and foreshadowing, especially in Tyrion’s case; that revelation is that Tyrion is actually a Targaryen.
Before I go further into explaining this revelation, I’d like to first establish the show’s very heavy use of symbolism and foreshadowing in Tyrion’s storyline. This is one of my favourite examples: in season 2, on the eve of the Battle of the Green Fork, Tyrion met Shae for the first time inside the Lannister camp. A conversation took place between him, Bronn and Shae. Early clues to his eventual betrayal by Shae and his murder of his father can be found as far back into the show as this scene.
Tyrion recounts the horrifying story of his first marriage to Tysha and how his encounter with her was all arranged by his father Tywin Lannister:
Tyrion: First, my father had Jamie tell me the truth. Girl was a whore, you see. Jamie had arranged the whole thing; the road, the rapers, all of it. He thought it was time I had a woman. After my brother confessed, my father brought in my wife and gave her to his guards. He paid her well; a silver for each man. How many whores command that kind of price? He brought me into the barracks and made me watch. By the end, she had so much silver that the coins were slipping through her fingers and rolling onto the floor.
Bronn: I would’ve killed the man who did that to me.
Shae: You should have known she was a whore.
In the books, it turns out that Tysha wasn’t a whore and was actually in love with Tyrion but was forced by Tywin to admit otherwise to teach Tyrion a lesson. In the show, when Tyrion brought Shae to King’s Landing, he should’ve realised that she was a whore, who will ultimately betray him in his trial.
During Tyrion’s trial, Shae comes forward as the final witness and the ultimate symbolism of betrayal for Tyrion as he listens helplessly to all of her lies.
Tyrion: Shae, please don’t.
Shae: I’m a whore, remember?
I could almost imagine Tyrion in the show adding in, “No kidding, really?” Anyway, during Tyrion’s escape, he finally killed the man who did this to him – his father. So the parallels of both stories above and its seemingly circular narrative are undoubtedly symbolic and its eventual outcome already foreshadowed prior.
Now that we have established the literary techniques used in the show are well thought out, let’s talk about the reason that initially started me off on this theory about Tyrion. It began with the visions that Daenerys had when she went to the House of the Undying to rescue her dragon whelps from the warlocks of Qarth in season 2’s finale.
In my previous article, I briefly mentioned that Daenerys dreamed of a three-headed dragon which loosely implied three riders for her three dragons. I then mentioned how the depiction of her visions in the show gave a more visually compelling argument for Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion to be our future dragon riders than the books did. I’ll get to the visions in the show at the end of this article.
For now, let’s take a look at the ones from the books. In it, Daenerys had this one vision where she saw her brother Rhaegar whom she had never met before speaking of his son being “the prince that was promised and that his is the song of ice and fire”, adding “there must be one more…the dragon has three heads.” Keep in mind that Rhaegar only had two children, putting Jon Snow aside.
This has also something to do with the Targaryen sigil which features a three-headed dragon. During a conversation between Tywin and Arya Stark at Harrenhal in season 2, we learned that Aegon the Conqueror had three dragons and two sisters who helped him conquered Westeros. Arya was a captive at Harrenhal which was occupied by the Lannisters at the time. In this scene, Tywin was explaining to Arya how this War of the Five Kings will be his last war, the one he will be remembered for as his legacy.
Arya eats and listens interestedly to Tywin’s story of how Harrenhal became a ruin because it was built to repel a land attack but not an attack from the air:
Tywin: Aegon Targaryen changed the rules. That’s why every child alive still knows his name three hundred years after his death.
Arya: Aegon and his sisters.
Arya: It wasn’t just Aegon riding his dragons. It was Rhaenys and Visenya too.
Tywin: Correct. Student of history are you?
Although subtle, this is an example of how the show is potentially hinting at its own future much like the scene between Tyrion, Bronn and Shae in the Lannister camp did. It also seems that the number three is deeply rooted in Targaryen history as it isn’t enough to just put it on sheer coincidence that the number three appears a lot in the show in relation to the Targaryens. For example, Daenerys also happens to have three dragons.
So what am I getting at? I believe there will be three Targaryens to match the three dragons. If you’ve read my previous article, you’ll know that Jon is very likely to be the second Targaryen. But why would Tyrion be the third? So let’s now begin with season 3 in a scene between Tyrion and Tywin discussing Tyrion’s rightful claim to Casterly Rock.
Tyrion sits in painful disbelief as he suffers Tywin’s ultimate insult:
Tywin: And I will let myself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock.
Tywin: Why?! You ask that? You who killed your mother then come into the world? You are an ill-made spiteful little creature, full of envy, lust and low cunning. Men’s law give you the right to bear my name and display my colours since I cannot prove that you are not mine.
Were those last few words meant to be figurative or literal? Why would Tywin say he cannot prove Tyrion is not his child? In the books, it’s been mentioned that the Mad King was infatuated with Tyrion’s mother, Joanna Lannister. There’s also a whole backstory about the animosity between Tywin and the Mad King. So, if Tyrion is the Mad King’s bastard son with Joanna, it would make sense why Tywin despises him so much. Since he cannot prove the legitimacy of Tyrion’s birth, he knows he is forced to raise Tyrion as his own.
Then, another conversation took place between them again at the end of season 3 just after the events of the Red Wedding.
As Tywin preaches how the house that puts families first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first, Tyrion remarks how it’s easier for his father to say that when he’s the one making all the decisions:
Tywin: Easy for me is it?
Tyrion: When have you ever done something that wasn’t in your interest but solely for the benefit of the family?
Tywin: The day that you were born! I wanted to carry you into the sea and let the waves wash you away. Instead, I let you live. And I brought you up as my son.
And ultimately, this final scene when Tyrion visits his father in his privy to kill him took it home for me. Watch out for Tywin’s last words.
As Tyrion decides to end his father’s life for wanting him dead, he reloads his crossbow one more time to finish the deed:
Tywin: You’re no son of mine.
Tyrion: I am your son. I have always been your son.
All these scenes above are meant to highlight the duality of Tywin’s words and how they can be interpreted in multiple ways. But the subtle consistency of it being uttered by the same man over and over again at the same person is very foretelling and compelling.
Is this all evidence enough though? Probably not yet. So let’s recall something from my previous article where I mentioned how Melisandre’s interest with Jon might actually hold a deeper and more significant meaning related to his lineage than his resurrection. There is something to be said about her fascination with Jon. She is clearly drawn to him from the moment she arrived at the Wall. So why is this important? It’s because I suspect there’s a connection between the Targaryens and the Red Priestesses of the Lord of Light.
The first hint of this connection between Tyrion and the Red Priestesses was first revealed in season 5. On his way to find Daenerys, he and Varys stopped at Volantis. He then came upon a Red Priestess preaching to a crowd about Daenerys.
As Tyrion sits on the steps drinking his wine and listens to the Red Priestess, something unexplainable happens:
Red Priestess: He has sent you a saviour! From the fire she was reborn to remake the world! The Dragon Queen!
Tyrion: [Turns to Varys] We’re going to meet the Saviour. You should’ve told me. Who doesn’t want to meet the Saviour?
Tyrion turns back to the crowd and suddenly the Red Priestess turns her head slowly, first towards Tyrion’s direction, then looking at him directly as though she was searching his presence out from the crowd before. Her look is that of unplaced familiarity and curiosity. Unsettled, Tyrion quickly leaves from the scene with Varys.
Knowing the show by now, there is little chance that the event above was a filler scene or that the Red Priestess just randomly looked at Tyrion without explanation for dramatic effect. Could it be because she somehow sensed something strange and unique about Tyrion? Much like how Melisandre is drawn to Jon? Is it because of their possible joint Targaryen lineage? There is a very obvious connection that the show is trying to hint at with this scene.
To further this theory, let’s take a look at the scene in season 5 where Tyrion saw a dragon for the very first time in the ruins of old Valyria. In very typical Game of Thrones fashion, that scene might have been a symbolic one foreshadowing a future event. You have to wonder, what is the significance of showing that scene? Every scene is important and usually has a purpose in the grand scheme of storytelling in the show. If that’s not enough to convince you, then take a look at the latest hint in last week’s episode 2 where we saw Tyrion in the dungeons of Meereen and his surprising but successful attempt at dragon whispering.
Finally, let’s go back to the visions Daenerys had at the House of the Undying as depicted in the show. As mentioned before, the vision that Daenerys had in the books was about a three-headed dragon which loosely translates into three riders for her three dragons. But it ends there. No further clues on the identities of the three dragon riders can be gleaned from it.
In the show however, the showrunners recreated that same scene in a more visually compelling version and took its subtleties to a whole new level. From the start of this article, I’ve talked a lot about the use of symbolism and foreshadowing as the show’s primary narrative tools. These tools are most deftly used here in the following scenes below.
Inside the House of the Undying, Daenerys hears the wailing of her dragons and steps through the first door and into her first vision. She finds herself inside the Great Hall of the Iron Throne in the Red Keep of King’s Landing. She next steps out of the Hall and finds herself on the other side of the Wall. And finally, she sees a Dothraki tent in the distance and enters it to find Khal Drogo with her son Rhaego in his arms.
There’s a lot of ways to interpret these visions. But having now rewatched the entire 5 seasons in the last month and having a better understanding of the show’s narrative mosaic coupled together with a deep understanding of its literary techniques, this is how I interpreted the visions. All three locations of her visions symbolise the identities of the three dragon riders that were foreshadowed in the book’s visions. The Great Hall in the Red Keep symbolises Tyrion as no one else in King’s Landing has a stronger argument as a secret Targaryen other than him. The Wall obviously symbolises Jon. And the Dothraki tent symbolises Daenerys herself.
If all the above is still not enough to convince you that Tyrion may be a Targaryen, do you remember how in my previous article I highlighted that the showrunners even hinted at Jon’s possible lineage from as early on as season 1 in the form of Jon’s parents’ initials being etched onto a wooden beam next to him?
In my opinion, here’s another example of the same attempt from the showrunners poking fun at us. Let me cast your attention to the premiere of season 4 when Daario Naharis sought out Daenerys’ audience to discuss a “matter of strategy” on their journey to Meereen. In that scene, Daario presented Daenerys with three flowers as an underhanded attempt at wooing her. Again remember, this is a show we know that interlaces many of their scenes with subtle nuances meant to foreshadow bigger things to come.
Daenerys relents to Daario’s attempt at an apology disguised as a strategy discussion for being late and not attending to her earlier in the morning.
Daenerys: Alright, what is this “matter of strategy”?
Daario: A dusk rose [Daario takes out a blue rose and hands it to Daenerys].
Daenerys: Would you like to walk at the back of the train instead of riding?
Daario: And this one’s called Lady’s Lace [Daario takes out a white bunch of flowers].
Daenerys: Would you like to walk without shoes?
Daario: You have to know a land to rule it; its plants, its rivers, its roads, its people. Dusk rose tea eases fever. Everyone in Meereen knows that, especially the slaves who make the tea. If you want them to follow you, you have to become a part of their world; strategy.
And finally, Daario presents the final flower; red of petal and gold of stalk.
Daario: Harpy’s Gold. No tea from this one; beautiful but poisonous.
In the books, the blue winter rose is often associated with Lyanna Stark as it was the flower that Rhaegar gave her when he won the tourney at Harrenhal when they both meet for the first time. So it could be loosely interpreted that the blue rose symbolises Jon. The white flowers could also be loosely interpreted as symbolic of Daenerys due to her white silver hair. But then again, from what we’ve seen so far, is there really such a thing as loose interpretation in Game of Thrones? As for the final flower, the red and gold can only symbolise one person who is relevant to this story.
If I have to be any more obvious than that, it’s Tyrion’s house sigil: a golden lion in a field of red.
TL;DR: Tyrion Lannister is a Targaryen.
Enjoy watching season 6!